Tag Archives: aloof percussionist

Boxed In

7 Jul

sturm and drangThe envelope arrived unbidden. Tangled with grocery store circulars and an infinite supply of enticements from local dentists, the red rectangle semaphored false comfort. A new movie! Tear, tear, rip, open, GASP! Crumple, papers falling to the ground, heartbreak-induced coma achieved.

It’s a movie that capital H-E chose. He watched it one night and said you should see it. Gamely, you added it to your queue, forgetting it instantly, and then months passed before you finally returned another DVD and triggered the unleashing of this horror. This condescending, pretentious, and self-absorbed depiction of a breakup that you can’t even finish watching because it’s so bogged down with “Pity me, pity me, I’m a complicated artist who couldn’t treat a beautiful woman well enough to keep her, so she left me, and now I am wretch, but I crave the status and inspiration that accompanies misery, so leave me alone to die here at the side of the road.”

Clicking “stop” and “eject” in rapid succession, and then quickly and determinedly sealing the return envelope, you storm to the mailbox and send this last vestige of romance gone wrong back to the fury of its origins. Away, away, ye harbinger of all that made it impossible for him to love you. Apparently he really wasn’t over his ex, and this damn movie was his sweet succor.

But worst of all is this. You can’t relate, in any way, shape, or form with the crummy protagonist in this film. It’s been so damn long since you broke up with anyone who left any sort of aching vacancy in your life, you can’t empathize with someone moaning, “I don’t want to love you anymore.”

The agony of loss is lost on you. And you wonder, is your heart dead? Is that why the Gentleman has yet to trigger any trembling? But in truth, you’re just adjusting to the tempo of a life not dictated by the whims of the broken-souled. Good people treat each other well, and the turbulence subsides. What you often mistake for passion is actually the push-pull of withholding versus need. And that horrible movie could have been your life. But instead you’re opting for the next film in the queue.

Bookmarks and Placeholders

29 Jun
The bookshelves at Brewed in Fort Worth offer a Katherine Hepburn biography.

The bookshelves at Brewed in Fort Worth offer a Katherine Hepburn biography.

At this very moment, bathed in the fading dusk light tumbling from a sky portal in a vaulted Salt Lake City ceiling, there sits a a thick hardback edition of an Isabella Stewart Gardner biography. It possesses the dusty green paper jacket and simple lettering prevalent in the mid twentieth century. It is my book. And yet it sits approximately 1400 miles away from my present position on a sofa facing another coffee table in Fort Worth.

Despite the fact that I was only in Salt Lake for a short while last month, I absolutely had to procure this massive, unwieldy tome from a used bookstore, because the coveted object’s pages contained so many beautiful 1960s artifacts from Boston. The Aloof Percussionist said that these artifacts were probably plants, fake random tidbits shoved into pages by bookstore staff to boost the charms of happenstance, but I countered this cynicism with facts. The book was on the “new arrivals” pile and these envelopes, mailed magazine book review clippings, and event flyers formerly were clearly cherished by a single, singular person. There was obvious congruity in their origin. And whoever owned the book was clearly a kindred spirit of mine. Their correspondents sent book reviews in the mail, with handwritten dates on the clippings, and they lived between New York and Boston. Oh, and they tucked things into books.

This is my habit and my problem. I put important pieces of paper, fragments, words written for me, poems selected and sent, into books, and then I lose them in the stacks of my library home. Woven throughout the forest of pages are all the good thoughts and intentions anyone has ever shared with me. Some lucky shelf-hunting second-hand book buyer will discover them someday, if such a vocation still exists when I pass, and they will know that I was loved, and interesting, and traveled the world, but never did settle down long enough in any one place to finish every book and keep every single piece of paper in one safe receptacle.

For the past few days I’ve been haunted very specifically by one such lost fragment—a small, folded piece of paper carrying the words of a William Stafford poem. This scrap once resided in the hand-made wallet of my dearest Heart Friend in Salt Lake City. He handed it to me quietly during a cafe visit last August, paused, and then requested that I tuck the poem into my purse and keep it with me. He’d already sent me the same poem, “A Ritual to Read to Each Other,” on a postcard one month beforehand, but now in this new portable form, he wanted me to have it again. Clearly it was important to him, and so I guarded it carefully, retrieving it often and retracing each syllable silently and aloud, so the meaning changed with settings and circumstances.

But a few days ago, while I was preparing to dine with The Gentleman from Carrollton, I became preoccupied with the location of that very small, soft from refolding, piece of paper. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. Such a long time. I had so diligently carried it with me for so long. But then there was an awful lot of receipt farming and shredding… in a flash, I feared the worst. While The Gentleman stood near my front door, I briefly considered rummaging in a drawer or two, pretending I was searching for something I needed that evening, but really seeking this shred of past thought that I suddenly needed to have immediately to hand.

I resisted the urge. But did become frantic in my search again this evening, cursing myself aloud for being so careless, until I found the original postcard-affixed facsimile of the poem in a book shoved inside a cabinet in my bedroom. That is the storage place for books that would embarrass me if a guest should happen upon them. The books that are telling me what is wrong with me and how to fix it.

Ohhhhh books, try to tell me why I cannot cherish what is given to me, and flail instead through piles and shelves of lost gestures and absence.

Three weeks ago in Salt Lake City, again and always packing to leave, I carelessly decided not to cram the giant Isabella Stewart Gardner book into my carry-on. My enormous suitcase was full, and I didn’t want to add the extra ballast to the other two bags I’d be heaving through the terminal. I was sure I’d come back for the book. I was so in love with The Aloof Percussionist, after all. He offered to send it to me after I left, but I refused, insisting I’d return for it. Now book and artifacts are as lost to me as anything stored in such a way. Important, tucked between pages, and then placed on a shelf and forgotten.

Get a Good Look

28 Jun

texasEntangled with rib cages touching, I curl my shoulders and hold my heart at the center with his chest to contain me. His hold doesn’t drift while my mind disappears over a precipice. Three weeks ago I was tracing the  nape of another neck, and I poured every single ounce of affection into that soul. I stored it all there, gave it a home, and now here I am, mid-cherish, and I can feel my heart tremble at the thought that I would give it away again so soon. It’s not going voluntarily this time. It’s staying still, holding itself out of reach even while the generous Gentleman from Carrollton cradles me.

The way he reaches for me is exactly what I have always sketched for my future loved self. A duo on the sofa, some space between us, a pause, and that intentional but nonchalant reach. The enfolding into a safe place. And then a very calm and resolute sustain.

There is absolutely nothing turbulent or dramatic about it. Nothing like a time limit, impending flight, or marital partner to stir up the dopamine and make me feel engulfed in passion. So my heart shrugs, and asks, what about that Aloof Percussionist, the one you promised me to and chased and pushed and demanded and did not receive in return.

Sorry, heart, I understand you are going through drama withdrawal. And honestly, I am not really sure how to navigate this scenario. Everything feels good, and linear, with no spikes, only a gentle grasping of my hand as we drive back from the restaurant. He is that man. The one every therapist and friend has said I’ve deserved my entire life. He is steady and kind and he doesn’t demand or expect. He just is there alongside me.

A friend of mine said that I had to find someone who could just “be” with me. Not be “with” me, but “be”, as in, he’s a solid object, and I’m a solid object, and we can rest together without any kind of crazy catalyst stirring us up into an incendiary disaster. It helps that he is as familiar as he is new. I’ve known this man for the better part of ten years, seeing him only every once in a while, but always wondering at the connection. Then one year ago I landed in his part of the country by happenstance and six months later surprised myself by remembering his presence in the Metroplex.

Is this, this calm, this appreciation, is this the origin of love? I feel supported but not taxed. He is present but not squinting to analyze and extract every thought and feeling that quivers in my ever-shifting being. Observant, but not critical, he presents a very smooth connection that provides a sense that I am understood.

In the morning, I wake up and I have to count back to the last time I chose someone good to place next to my heart. The realization is a bit shocking. It was twenty-three years ago, when I was in high school, that I allowed a benevolent soul to join my orbit and hold me. Then three years later I pummeled him and traded up to a more jagged course. I first sipped the nectar of drama way back then, and I have never, ever stopped drinking.

People would say it, they’d suggest I was addicted to drama. But I honestly felt I wasn’t that stupid. Now, feeling this sense of calm acceptance, I realize that’s exactly how I’ve calibrated my every romantic encounter. Always choosing distance, either mental or physical, as a safe buffer, I made sure I was always alone.

This is what I wonder now. Can I retrain my heart to accept something smooth, a kind and generous match who fits every single descriptor I’ve listed ten million times. Older, already has kids, has a real job, is serious about health and fitness, likes beer, loves sports, has an artist soul and an engineering mind, makes me laugh, will probably never make me cry, and communicates early and often.

I built this construct, and now I am surrounded in it. But my heart actually cringes and shrinks in fear rather than swelling with acceptance. So, following the advice of my rational mind, I will slow everything down. I will let this love grow, rather than forcing it into existence. And he expects nothing more, requests nothing more. He is not calling this anything that it is not. We are enjoying each other.

Is this what it feels like to be with someone good? It’s quiet all around me, and it feels like I can exist as I am, with promise of support while I expand. I really do hope that I learn to like it.

I am a Comet

7 Jun

texas_sunsetSomeone check the lunar calendar, because there’s a resurgence of nostalgia in the atmosphere. Some tidal pull is triggering the release of countless missives from dusty old contacts, some of whom appear in my phone’s list of word-o-grams just moments after I’ve thought of them. Or in some squeal-inducing incidents, their syllables cross the screen at the precise millisecond that I think of them and happen to pick up the shiny device of telecommunications comfort.

Remind me there are more out there thinking of me. None of whom consistently, but all of whom with specific memories of what I said or how I was.

“I had a postcard from Pharmacy to send you, since you told me to send you a postcard, but realized that it would take too long to reach you before you’re in town.”

Did I request that of you? And when did I do so? Was it in February when I flipped hair over shoulder to start a turning progress and looked back to toss a stray comment that would cement the moment? It must have been then. I wanted you to see how different I look and I wanted a freeze frame in your memory. I guess it worked.

It sounds capricious, but really I will actually toy with the questions while the day evaporates. Putting softened butter into a bowl for a batch of cookies, I’ll scrape the spatula and smile sideways. I wonder if the divorce came through and now he’s writing.

And then the synapses respond to my sardonic rejection of his nostalgia with a sudden jolt of my own misty memories. The Cowboy scrawled some words this week. “I miss seeing you.” And I batted him away with my fake boyfriend, “I still gotta fella.” But now, sugar in the bowl, and the air outside feeling like humid summer that wrapped the carriage house last July, I do feel just a slight twinge connected with a perfect recollection of his smile. I bark a laugh that is actually his and stir the batter.

I am made up of these memories. I am part of theirs, and they are mine. Some people have one person they think of endlessly all day, one image that fills in all the meaning of the past. But I have a small crowd. So many moments each day are colored by a little vestige of a man I loved. And now the buffer seems to be full. I am forgetting postcard requests.

You, if you don’t act instantly, you will not catch me. If you really “take time to fall in love” like you say you do, you will miss me. I just flash by and approach orbit briefly, but soon enough I’ll be repelled back onto my own oblong course through the universe. I am on a long, long journey that will not see me near you again for such a long time. And as those days pass, I will accumulate debris and damage from contact, I will be bolstered by new matter, and I will release deadweight. It will fall away, streaking through the atmosphere and leave me lighter as I keep moving toward brighter objects.

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